Motoring on: food and beverage production gains efficiency with Linear Motors

The food and beverage industry has not escaped the impacts of a global pandemic. Whether recovering or adapting production due to restrictions, dealing with supply chain disruptions, or managing short-term demand increases due to the phenomenon of panic-buying, the impacts for many are only beginning to be understood.

The food and beverage industry has not escaped the impacts of a global pandemic. Whether recovering or adapting production due to restrictions, dealing with supply chain disruptions, or managing short-term demand increases due to the phenomenon of panic-buying, the impacts for many are only beginning to be understood.


As food manufacturers navigate the new terrain, the sector remains vital and resilient, with revenue expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2020-2024) of 10.6%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$336,838m by 2024 .

To do the best at the important job ahead, the food and beverage sector -- like every other -- will need to find better ways of working. This includes investing in its people and processes, and adopting new technologies, such as flexible robotics, traceability solutions, increasingly digitalised supply chains, and new processing machinery.

One area that operators wanting to run their factories more efficiently can look to, are the motors behind processes like line distribution, filling, cutting and sorting.

Pneumatic cylinders are a tried-and-true solution, but they're also noisy, and energy inefficient, and it can take hours to fine tune air pressure.

Tubular linear motors, on the other hand, can achieve very precise positional control and flexibility. Instead of being at one end or another, a linear motor can move to any single position within a stroke.

Newer actuation methods, such as tubular linear motors, are a way manufacturers can drive efficiency and productivity in their factory equipment. Such linear electrical motors are quicker and more accurate, allowing higher throughput at higher qualities over the same period, and use less energy. They have fewer moving parts so require less maintenance. And their servo drives are easily calibrated, meaning less time spent between line changes.

ANCA Motion's new LinX M-Series Linear Motor is an alternative to pneumatic, ballscrew, linear flatbed and other options .

M-Series LinX motors are highly dynamic, with velocities up to 10 m per second, acceleration over 30G, and are able to achieve a peak force of 1,200 N. The direct drive nature also means there is no wear and no backlash, a clear benefit over ballscrew options. The high-speed product also allows high repeatability across cycles, with position feedback accuracy of 50 um.

A typical payback period is between six and twelve months, with increased uptime and throughput and decreased maintenance quickly offsetting any cost difference versus pneumatics.

Its mounting is designed so it can work as a "drop-in" for existing pneumatic cylinders. Installation is made easier by the 1 mm air gap between the shaft and the forcer, which means a very relaxed tolerance requirement.

The M-Series has users worldwide in machine tools, electronics, packaging and other sectors, but its high level of ingress protection (IP67, easily upgraded to IP69K) make it particularly well suited to food and pharmaceutical manufacture and the requirement of regular washdowns. Each unit has a fully potted body, with magnets fully encased in a stainless steel tube and tightly sealed using end caps and o-rings.

ANCA Motion's linear motors were originally developed for sister company ANCA CNC Machines' FX Linear and MX Linear machines. ANCA is a leader in CNC tool grinding technology, with a series of world firsts beginning in 1974, and numerous awards acknowledging it as a leader in Australian industry for both its innovation and export achievements.

LinX was designed and assembled in Australia, with a team of support engineers offering a high level of locally-specific expertise. International support is also available through a network of 125 support engineers in the United States, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and various Asian markets.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a magnifying glass up to the importance of reliable and adaptable production of our essential goods.

It's important that the manufacturing sector -- including its food and beverage component -- can continue to grow during challenging times, firing on all cylinders.

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